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Council led work improves Mill Road Cemetery

News release from 07/03/2019

Pathways through Mill Road Cemetery have been renovated as part of a Cambridge City Council led project.

The council worked alongside the Parochial Burial Grounds Management Committee, Friends of Mill Road Cemetery, ward councillors and other local stakeholders to complete the latest phase of enhancement works in the much valued open space.

The reconstruction of the main pathways through the cemetery complements previous improvement work.

This included recreating the outline of the former mortuary chapel which stood in the centre of the site until 1954 and public art to celebrate birdsong.

Mill Road Cemetery was created and consecrated in 1848 to provide more burial space for the city centre parishes.

While it is now full, it is still consecrated, owned by the parishes and maintained as a churchyard and open space by the council. It is a county wildlife site and English Heritage Grade II listed location, with several listed monuments and war graves.

The main pathways, dating from the first establishment of the site, had become worn, misshapen and uneven over the years, leading to waterlogging, the formation of puddles and muddy areas. These were problematic for visitors of the cemetery, especially those with pushchairs or in wheelchairs and further accelerated deterioration of the paths.

The improvements were carried out sensitively and carefully to avoid graves and tree roots very close to the path edges. The council used root protection measures and a form of construction popularised in the Royal Parks and other stately homes that respects both the character and history of the site, while proving more usable and resilient to future damage.

The improvements were funded by approximately £130,000 of Section 106 contributions secured from developers in order to mitigate the impact of new development in Cambridge.

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces, said: “This project was jointly progressed very successfully by the various organisations with interests in the cemetery.

“It is a good example of co-operative endeavour to improve a much loved facility. Mill Road Cemetery is a haven of peace and quiet in an area of busy roads and densely packed terraced housing and it is very popular with local residents - particularly dog walkers.

“Any changes to the site need special consideration and permission from the diocese. Careful planning was needed for the materials and design of the works to reflect the original.

“We were also well served by our contractors who not only did a good job on time and on budget, but also interacted well with local residents who were able to continue to use the cemetery throughout.”

Cllr Thornburrow added: “We would encourage users of this popular open space to enjoy its peace and tranquillity, which is well served by these latest improvements.

“I would ask that visitors please keep to the main paths, which will help avoid further damage to graves, grassland and other planting and local wildlife.”

Dr Penny Granger, Chair of the Parishes Committee which represents the owners of the cemetery, who are the local vicars with burial plots, said: “We are delighted that this project has restored the paths according to the original design, making the cemetery more pleasant for all users and more accessible to people with pushchairs and wheelchairs.

“We are especially grateful to the teams from the council and their contractors for the efficient and good humoured way they organised the work.”

The council is looking for more volunteers to assist with the care and upkeep of many of its managed sites, including Mill Road Cemetery. For further information about volunteering opportunities email: sosvolunteers@cambridge.gov.uk or phone 01223 458084.

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